On one hand, the book reads like a riveting novel as Wallace reveals the machinations and internal debates among the scientific community to devise a workable atomic bomb as quickly as possible...But Countdown 1945 is also a profound story of decision making at the highest levels — and of pathos ... filled with fascinating details ... superb, masterly.
You’ve heard about it in school, movies and novels, but the true story, told in Chris Wallace and Mitch Weiss’ Countdown 1945, is more exciting than those tomes you cracked open in American history class ... Veteran journalist Chris Wallace provides us with a historical account of that world-shattering final decision, which reads like a thriller from page one. Hollywood couldn’t conceive of a plot any more taut than the real events behind the grueling decision to unleash a lethal weapon that would forever change warfare and planet Earth ... This page-turning account delves into the private lives of the actual men and women who created the atom bomb, tested it and armed it to finally detonate not once but twice over two major Japanese cities ... Had Countdown 1945 hit the market in less unsettling times, it would top the bestseller list overnight. It takes your mind off of current headlines for a few hours.
... Wallace has made a taut nonfiction thriller out of the dramatic days between Harry S. Truman’s succession to the presidency ... Structured as a series of datelined vignettes and fashioned as a countdown, the narrative lopes through its well-chosen selection of historical moments. This is a deeply absorbing reading experience about the fateful final months of a conflict that deserves to be known in detail to all Americans. It is what a popular history book should be: propulsively paced; well researched in primary sources; and written with sympathetic imagination, bringing people to life in their important moments. It will encourage and enrich many conversations on its subject ... Wallace gives us a rich cast of characters ... vivid and engaging portraits ... Hirohito’s dramatic conference with his war council is unaccountably not part of the book’s sequence of dramatic vignettes. Nonetheless, for its vividly drawn coverage of the American side of these pivotal events, the book is deservedly the nonfiction blockbuster of the season.